“They always intended to maintain lockstep, but it has become impossible,” says one former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner after the firm voted through a radical shake-up of its lockstep last week.

A current partner concedes that the move – which extends Freshfields’ lockstep ladder to a 60-point peak for star performers that equates to around £3m, and adds three gates lower down to control progress – was inevitable.